Olympians usher in new era

Columbus East’s Keaton Lawson looks for an opening against Bedford North Lawrence at Columbus East, Friday, Dec. 9, 2022.

The Republic file photo

It’s a New Era of boys basketball at Columbus East.

The Olympians have a new coach and mostly new players as they embark on the 2023-24 season. Perry Nash, a former head coach at Jac-Cen-Del and Triton Central who has spent the past four years as an assistant at Franklin Central, takes over for Brent Chitty.

East lost its top four players from a team that went 2-20.

“We don’t talk about winning games,” Nash said. “We talk about us. We can’t control our competition. We can’t control so many external factors. Our No. 1 thing is, we want to start to put together four quarters of playing together and competing every single second. Once we start competing every single second for four quarters, I think the ‘W’s and the ‘L’s take care of themselves.”

Nash had a chance to get a look at his team when it played about 25 games this summer. On Saturday, the Olympians scrimmaged Roncalli. They tied the first quarter, the Royals won handily in the second and third quarters and Roncalli pulled out a one-point win in the final period.

“For us, it’s about playing as a team, and I thought the first quarter and the fourth quarter, we really embedded that,” Nash said. “We encouraged each other, we shared the ball, we got our shot, we played together defensively. For us, that’s what we have to do because individually, we’re not going to be great, but as a team, I think we can be pretty good. So when we figure out that we share the ball like we did in that first quarter and like we did in that fourth quarter, and we learn that it takes five guys to play defense, I’m really excited about what we have.”

Carter Patterson, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, led East with 26 points in the scrimmage. Keaton Lawson, a 6-3 sophomore, is the leading returner in scoring (6.0), rebounding (3.1), assists (1.5) and steals (1.3).

The Olympians have a few other players with experience in 6-1 senior Jack Fischvogt, 5-8 junior Mason Reeves and 6-1 junior Ethan Bumbalough, 6-3 junior Danny Coriden and 6-2 senior Kadin Lobdell. Stepping into varsity roles this year will be 5-10 senior Elum VanEst, 6-2 sophomore Anthony Cowan, 6-1 junior Alex Duncan and 6-4 junior Grayson Watters.

“We don’t have a guy that’s going to get 20 every night, but what we do have is, I think we have five or six guys that can get 20,” Nash said. “So our goal is to be able to find that weakness in the defense and take advantage of it. We want to score by committee and not by an individual.”

Nash is pleased with the leadership he’s received from Fischvogt, Lobdell and VanEst.

“Our seniors are doing an amazing job with leadership because if you don’t have seniors to be the leaders when you come in, it’s really hard to build,” Nash said. “They’re doing a phenomenal job.”

The Olympians will look to build on what they accomplished in the scrimmage when they open the season Nov. 28 against Whiteland.

“Our biggest thing is, we want to compete,” Nash said. “We never want to take plays off. We came out, and we competed, and we didn’t care about everything else. I was really happy with some guys stepping up in some roles that maybe haven’t done that in the past.”

The 2023-24 Columbus East boys basketball schedule:

Nov. 28 vs. Whiteland, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 1 at Trinity Lutheran, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 2 vs. Southwestern (Hanover), 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 8 at Bedford North Lawrence, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 9 vs. Franklin, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 15 vs. Columbus North, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 16 at Scottsburg, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 19 at Greensburg, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 29 at Mt. Vernon, 6:30 p.m.

Jan. 9 vs. Shelbyville, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 12 at Bloomington South, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 13 vs. Seymour, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 16 vs. Mooresville, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 20 at Jeffersonville, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 26 at East Central, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 28 vs. Bloomington North, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 1 at Brownstown Central, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 3 at New Albany, 2 p.m.

Feb. 6 at Silver Creek, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 9 vs. Jennings County, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 16 vs. Madison, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 21 at Floyd Central, 7:30 p.m.